Pre-Valentines Health Tips

Pre-Valentines Health Tips

Expert Tips for a Valentine's Day Free from Cold Sore Woes - By Dr Eva Melegh

Reading time: 5 minutes

Valentines is a time when our lips can play a fairly important role in the proceedings so an emerging cold sore, which affect almost 50% of the population, could pour cold water on a hot date night.

A survey carried out by Skin Shop on 1000 cold sores sufferers found that 80% admitted that they had cancelled dates in the past due to cold sore outbreaks while 40% admitted they would rather cancel a date than let their dates see them with cold sores. 30% admitted their cold sores had ruined at least one Valentines in the past.

We know there's no cold sore cure but after seeing the results from our survey we felt compelled to seek some expert advice from skin specialist and consultant dermatologist Dr Eva Melegh to get her top tips for avoiding a cold sore before Valentines;

Tip 1 -  Leave out lip fillers

Having injections of lip fillers significantly raises the risk of triggering a cold sore.

Research shows that lip fillers can sometimes trigger the cold sore virus that has been laying dormant in the skin around the lips for a long time, sometimes even years.

If you do want lip fillers but are prone to cold sores, you can ask your doctor to prescribe a prophylaxis anti-viral medication for a few days before having the lip fillers which can reduce your risk of triggering a cold sore.

However, the risk is still raised by having lip fillers so they are best avoided two weeks before Valentines if you are hoping to have an amorous Valentines.

Tip 2 - Ditch hot drinks

February is typically a cold time or year in the Northern Hemisphere and there’s a temptation to increase your intake of hot drinks to warm up.

But heat, especially sudden heat on the lip area, can trigger a cold sore as heat irritates the skin and causes micro inflammation which can in turn activate the dormant cold sore virus in the skin around the lips.

So, in the run up to Valentines try to only sip on room temperature beverages and stand nearer the radiator to warm up instead.

Tip 3 - Fake it don't bake it

Skin typically looks paler and more pallid during January and February due to lack of sun in the Northern Hemisphere, with some places seeing only a few hours of daylight let alone sun during the month of January.

Many sun-starved skins seek tanning salons to give their skin some sun-kissed colour and especially in the run up to Valentines when bodies are perhaps more likely to be on display.

But before you head for a tan top up at your local tanning salon in anticipation of your Valentines date, think twice if you suffer from cold sores.

The main trigger for cold sore outbreaks is UV light. UV light damages the immune system in the skin, which is why it often triggers a cold sore outbreak. So a sun bed can trigger one in the same way as the sun can, in fact a sun bed is more likely than eve the sun as the UV radiation is more concentrated over a short period of time.

If you really want a sun kissed complexion for Valentines its safer all round and especially if you suffer from cold sores to go for a fake tan product than a sun bed.

Tip 4 -  Hold on the hangovers

A lowered immune system is high in the risk factor for a cold sore outbreak and so getting drunk enough to end up with a hangover means that you temporarily low your immune system, which can raise the risk of a cold sore outbreak.

If you have a lot riding on your Valentines date it might be wise to go tee total for the week preceding Valentines so the risk of an immunity impaired cold sore outbreak is completely avoided.



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Try not to get too drunk during your Valentines date too as if things go well as an impaired immune system the next day could trigger a cold sore and might mean you are out of dating action for at least a week after February 14th.

Tip 5 - No nuts

The cold sore virus requires arginine (amino acid) to replicate and thrive in your body. Depriving the virus of arginine can help reduce the duration and severity of a cold sores.

Nuts and seeds are one of the richest sources of arginine so to ensure you reduce your risk of a cold sore outbreak, skip the muesli and step away from the bar nuts for a week prior to Valentines.

Tip 6 -  Opt out of outdoor exercise

Stress is a major trigger for cold sores so exercising is a great way to keep cold sores at bay as its one of the best stress relievers.

However, exercising outdoors in the typically very cold weather at the start of February can cause your lips to become quickly dry and chapped as the heavier breathing from doing exercise combined with cold air and biting wind zaps moisture quickly from the lips.

Baring this in mind stopping exercising should not be the solution but perhaps taking your regular exercise indoors at the gym or a few workouts in your living room might be prudent in the week before Valentines just to make sure your lips stay supple and moisturised.

In addition, wear a beneficial lip balm 2-3 times daily for the two weeks preceding Valentines.

Try Lip Q Liquorice Balm a natural lip balm containing a highly concentrated extract of liquorice which can help protect lips from cold sores, according to a study carried out by the Herpes Virus Association.

The key cold sore fighting ingredient in liquorice is glycyrrhizic acid (GA).  GA specifically targets the genes that are required to maintain the virus in its latent state by interfering with the production of special proteins that feed the infected cells.

Tip 7 - Cut the crusty bread and crisps

Any trauma to the lips can trigger a cold sore outbreak and aside from chapping from dehydrated lips, abrasive foods such as crusty bread and crisps, are the easiest way to damage lips and risk a cold sore outbreak.

Even tiny micro cuts from crusty breads and crisps to the lips and corners of the mouth raise the risk of triggering a cold sore.

Stick to soft bread and avoid crisps in the week before Valentines to keep your lips free of any damage.

Tip 8 - Leave matt lipstick alone

Anything that dries out the lips in a hazard to lips prone to cold sores and matt lipsticks and long-stay lipsticks are particular culprits.

The very ‘mattness’ of matt lipsticks relies on drawing moisture out of the lips for the colour to stay put for longer and for there to be no shine.

Avoid matt lipsticks and long stay lipsticks for up to five days before Valentines, in fact its preferable to avoid all lipsticks. Stick to moisturising lip balms instead.*

It may also be wise to avoid a heavy lip stick on your actual Valentines date as even if a cold sore does not develop before Valentines, one may be triggered on the date itself which means in the days after one may develop, which could ruin any potential follow up dates for at least a week.


Dr Eva Melegh

Dr Eva Melegh M.D. dermatologist & cosmetologist is a member of the Belgian Society of Dermatology & Venereology.